PittsburghMom

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PittsburghMom is our original, featured blog by Heather Starr Fiedler.  Heather created PittsburghMom in March 2008 and began this journey.  Heather is the mom to two young boys, Matthew (9) and Benjamin (7), a college professor and General Manager of PittsburghMom. She's busy, but not too busy to blog about her sometimes serious, sometimes painful and often humorous thoughts on life and share her favorite Pittsburgh spots for families.

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Leaving on a jet plane...without my family

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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By the time you read this I'll be nearly 5,000 miles away.  I'm heading out of town for ten days without my family.

About a year and a half ago my sister-in-law asked me if I would be interested in heading to Europe with my niece, who wanted to go on student trip abroad. But she wanted her to have an adult with her that she knew, so that's where I entered the picture.

We signed up and eighteen months later the time has come!

I'm excited but also sad to be going all the way to Italy and France without my family. The guilt is huge, of course. 

While I'm gone the kids will be spending half the time here at home with my husband (camp during the day while he works) and the other half of the time in New York with my parents.  The past two summers have included trips without the kids (two years ago we went to Mexico for our 10th anniversary and last year we went to Macedonia and Turkey for a work trip), and during those times they've gone to visit grandma and grandpa.

The kids are super excited to be spending a week in the country. They plan to fish, relax and take some day trips to local attractions/amusement parks.  My parents are excited, too.

While it's hard for me to let go and leave them in someone else's hands for over a week, I know it's great for them to have this special time with my family.

I think even if we don't have any trips planned, we'd like to continue the 'week in the summer at grandma and grandpas house'.  

Do any of your kids go away for a week in the summer without you?

 

 

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The Perfect Family

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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This is my perfect family. It's not the family I thought I'd end up with, but it's my perfect world now. 

Indulge me while I wax poetic for a bit.

I was having coffee with a local mom, professor, entrepreneur last week and she said something that really stuck with me.

We were talking about how many kids we had, whether they were boys or girls, how far apart they are, etc. and she was relating a conversation that she had with her husband.

They were talking about how many children they should ideally have.

She said "what do you think is the perfect family" and he replied
"The perfect family is the family you have."

Let that sink in.

The perfect family is the family you have.


That has really stuck with me because I could not agree more. I think society sets up this idea of the "perfect" family and expects us to fulfill some preconceived checklist of what we need to have to be happy.

I'm sure you all know what I mean.

I have two boys.  If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me when we were going to try for a girl I could retire tomorrow.

One of my best friends has an only child and she's often told she's not being fair to him by not giving him siblings.

Another friend has eight children and gets questioned about it all the time.

We hear "you should have your children young so you can still enjoy life when they go to college"  or "you should have them late so you can enjoy your 20s without any kids at all."

Let's stop forcing the "perfect" family on people and also feeling pressured to have the "right" amount of kids of the "right" gender at the "right" time. Two boys, three girls, two moms, two dads, adopted, fostered, twins...it doesn't matter. It's all perfect if it's yours. 

The perfect family is the family you have.  Amen.

 

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Overscheduled summer

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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This summer is flying by way too fast.  I may be going crazy, but I seem to remember previous summers as filled with lazy mornings and many, many "what should we do today" days.

This summer I can't recall a single one.  Every morning we're up early and out the door to camp. The first truly lazy, unscheduled day I can forsee won't be until the first week of August.

I fear that I overscheduled our summer this year.  I signed the kids up for a few camps and we are taking a vacation next week. 

It didn't seem that much when I booked it:

  • The boys each went to a 2-3 night Cub Scout overnight camp (with parent)
  • They each went to a 3-day all-day Cub Scout camp
  • They were signed up for the local rec program in the mornings from June 18-July 25 (but we skipped it for other camps)
  • They are signed up for a 5-day science camp all day next week.
  • They will spend a week at my parent's house in New York

Everything seems to come one after another and ended up booking us for nearly every day so far this summer. Everything they've done has been fun, but I wish I had a better balance of "what should we do today" days.

I have a season pass to Sandcastle and haven't used it yet.
We have only been to a pool once for a couple of hours.

I need time to slow down so we can have more summer.  Before we know it we'll be back to school. Sigh.

How tightly do you schedule summer?  

 

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Know your truth....and stand by it

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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Last night I gave a short talk to a room of 100 social media professionals. Many of the speakers had a short "message" and mine was "Know your Truth".

I talked about the reality of blogging about something so personal (parenting) and having to open myself up to the feedback that often accompanies my posts.

It's hard. I won't lie.  To put something so personal online and have strangers judge me on a regular basis takes a thick skin.You just have to know your truth and stand by it. If your truth is that you feel a certain way about vaccinations or sleep training or that your husband is a bad housekeeper, don't feel bad about sharing it. And don't apologize for it.

I talked about how sometimes I post about things I know might welcome negative comments and, in those cases, I steel myself for what's to come. I go through the scenarios in my head and make sure I'm prepared for them. I "brace for impact".

When I wrote about needing to see a therapist with Ben I was so worried. I cried like crazy writing my first "Life with Ben" post.   I was so scared to post it. It was so personal and painful. Admitting I couldn't do it alone and needed help was hard and I wasn't sure I could handle any negative feedback.

And then something wonderful happened. Everyone was absolutely fantastic. I got dozens of comments and private messages from people wanting to help, wanting to share their own story, and thanking me for sharing mine. 

Other times I post something that I think is innocent tongue in cheek banter and end up getting slammed in the comments.  I'll never forget the time I asked, for a local new mom, what apps were available to track her newborns feeding and diaper changes for the doctor. People attacked her, saying she needed to put down the phone and pay attention to her baby. That she was going to be a terrible mother.  It shocked and saddened me.

I also told the story of when I wrote about yelling at my husband for being a bad photographer. I jokingly wrote that sometimes I holler at him in public because he just can't take a good picture to save his life.  People tore me to shreds, saying that I was disrespectful to my husband and I needed to support him at all times, not speak negatively about him in a public forum.

I started to really question myself. Was I a bad wife? Should I have posted that?

Then a week later, on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, he took this picture of me and the kids

 

So that's my truth. Truth. I need help with my son. Truth. My husband is a bad photographer. Truth. MY truth.

What's your truth?

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The end of big birthday parties?

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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My oldest son, Matthew, turned 9 last week.  When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday and gave him several "party place" options, I threw in one alternative: Kennywood with just a couple of friends instead of a party.

He immediately jumped on the Kennywood idea and didn't look back. I was torn at first. I somewhat love planning parties. We've had big parties for him every since since he was born. We've done them both at home and at party places.  I enjoy picking a theme and running with it and I enjoy seeing all of his classmates and their parents.

What I don't love is the price tag.  Parties have gotten so expensive. By the time you pay the per-child cost and add in food, cake and favors, I'd guess I spend well over $300-$400 on each party.  All for 2 hours of absolute chaos.  Where typically, at the end, I'm left feeling like a tornado went through my brain. There are gifts and wrapping paper everywhere. Extra favors that years later are still sitting on my dining room shelf.  Two dozen thank you notes to write. And it's all over in the blink of eye.

So when he latched onto the Kennywood party I let him go with it. I knew it meant no theme. No cake and ice cream. No seeing lots of friends.  But that's what he wanted.

And it was fabulous. I do admit it was a bit odd to not have a candles for my baby to blow out on his birthday (I tried to bring cupcakes but it was hot and they melted) :)

But as I watched him with his friends (he invited four) run from ride to ride to ride, all the while loudly proclaiming it was the "BEST PARTY EVER!" my heart was overjoyed. He's chosen his friends well and they were a delight to have for the day. I "rode the green bench" all day, as they had absolutely no use for me. I'm glad I brought a book to keep me entertained. I bought each boy a Minecraft tshirt as a favor and they wore them for the day. It had nothing to do with any theme, which made me die inside a little ;) but I knew they'd love them.

We stopped for pizza on the way home where talked turned to their favorite ride of the day and how much fun they'd had. Total price for the day: $175 

This may be the end of big birthday parties for us....and I'm ok with that.

 

 

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